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woman doing acupuncture
By Meghan O'Neal 06/22/2020

Note: Among piercers and scientists, getting pierced to activate acupuncture points is a pseudoscience. Experts agree that any results from the piercings come from a placebo effect rather than any sort of acupuncture cure. However, there are a handful of people who claim that the piercings helped them. If you suffer from the below issues, we recommend that you talk to a medical professional for a more proven cure before you attempt to find relief through a piercing. If you decide to get pierced to try and relieve some of these issues, don’t blame your piercer if it doesn’t work; they are not acupuncturists, and there is no hard proof that piercings can help with these issues.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment meant to relieve pain and even improve wellness. Acupuncturists poke needles into certain points to help balance the flow of energy within your body. In modern Western medicine, acupuncture is used to stimulate certain nerve endings to help relax your muscles, therefore reducing pain.

There’s a small group who believe that piercing these acupuncture points can permanently activate these areas, helping to relieve pain. As mentioned above, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, but a quick Google search shows some anecdotal evidence (likely the result of a placebo effect).

If you’re curious about trying a piercing to activate an acupuncture point, here’s a brief guide.

What are acupuncture points?

There are over 300 acupuncture points in the body, each connected to 14 major channel lines. These lines lead to your major organs. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that activating these points helped to balance your body by adjusting your energy flow, or qi.

Your qi—pronounced “chi”—flows through these pathways, and they can sometimes become imbalanced. Through acupuncture, these flows can be reopened, which in theory, can treat many issues in the body.

acupuncture doll

There are hundreds of acupuncture points in the body.

While Western medical professionals largely agree that acupuncture likely does not serve to treat any major maladies, the jury’s still out on whether or not acupuncture can help with pain relief.

Scientifically, acupuncture points appear in places where nerves and muscles can be stimulated, which could improve blood flow, relax the muscles, and aid your body’s natural painkillers. However, it’s unclear whether any positive result is a placebo or if acupuncture actually works.

How do piercings activate acupuncture points?

The theory behind using piercings to permanently activate acupuncture points is simple: the jewelry permanently opens the channel associated with that point, constantly encouraging the energy flow in that area. (Or, it permanently stimulates the nerves and muscles at that point.)

It seems to make sense; acupuncture consists of sticking needles in your body to activate certain points, so why not stick something in there permanently? However, an acupuncture session typically only lasts about 5 – 30 minutes, not forever. Therefore, many people who have claimed to find pain relief through a piercing have said that the relief eventually faded. Whether it’s because the placebo effect wore off or the acupuncture point was no longer stimulated, using a piercing to activate an acupuncture point is likely only a short term solution, if it works at all.

Will my piercing solve my issue?

The short answer is probably not. 

While many people claim that their piercing has helped resolve an issue (usually in regards to chronic pain), their relief is likely a placebo. Even then, many of those who experienced pain relief have reported that the pain later returned, suggesting that the piercing is not a permanent solution.

woman with multiple ear piercings

Although piercings, like the tragus, are said to help with pain or even food cravings, results are likely due to a placebo effect.

As long as you understand that a piercing is not a scientifically valid cure for the problem that you’re trying to fix, and you enjoy the aesthetic of the piercing, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t try the piercing out. The worst that can happen is that you experience no pain relief (which is likely), but you’re left with an adorable new piercing.

Which piercings (supposedly) help with pain?

Now that we’ve addressed acupuncture points, it’s time to talk about the piercings that are placed there. 

The daith for migraines

It’s believed that the area where the daith is pierced can help relieve chronic migraines. Some claim that, once they got their daith pierced, they noticed that they got fewer migraines, and some said that they felt less migraine pain.

This acupuncture point is also used to relieve tension caused by anxiety, and some claim that it has helped reduce their stress and anxiety levels.

The tragus for sugar cravings/appetite control

If you’re trying to lose weight, an acupuncturist might tell you to activate your tragus area. It’s said that this point helps control sugar cravings and/or your overall appetite.

The conch for muscle relaxation/chronic pain

The conch area is used to relax the muscles which will relieve any chronic pain associated with that tension. If you’re one to feel constantly tensed, then you might benefit from this as well.

woman with ear full of piercings

If you’re looking to activate an acupuncture point, the ear is the best place to try.

The rook relieves stress

For those who are looking for a spiritual way to reduce their feelings of stress, the rook piercing might be something to try. It is placed at an acupuncture point to fix the flow of energy associated with stress.

Ear piercings in general 

If you’re interested in finding pain relief through acupuncture, ear piercings are believed to have the most benefits. The ear has many acupuncture points that can positively affect your qi, leading to better mental health and reduced pain. 

What to do if you’re interested in getting pierced for pain management

If you want to give this “permanent acupuncture” a try, first you must realize that it’s an untested practice, and you might not feel any change at all. You should always consult a professional about any mental health or chronic pain issues. They’ll provide more viable solutions, and they’ll be able to diagnose anything more serious.

After you’ve talked to a medical professional, you should try to find a piercer with knowledge about acupuncture points. It’s a very niche area, so you might struggle to find someone, but they’ll better empathize with your situation, and they’ll be able to explain what your piercing will do for you from an acupuncture standpoint. However, the most important thing is that the piercer is reputable and fully certified. If you find a piercer who has the spiritual credentials, but they don’t have the piercing background, then opt for another piercer.

Any other reputable piercer will be able to do your piercing just fine. Keep in mind that it’s a very controversial idea, even in the piercing world, so depending on your piercer, you might get someone who has some negative opinions on the matter.

In the end, the most important thing is that you end up with a healthy, adorable piercing, whether or not you find the pain relief that you seek. The worst-case scenario is that you end up with a cool addition to your style even if your issue goes unsolved. As long as you know that results aren’t guaranteed, why not give it a try?

Some cute jewelry to wear

Those who believe that piercings can improve your qi agree that you need to be careful about which metals you put in your piercings. The best is 14k gold or silver. If you’re trying to decide whether you want to try a piercing, here’s some adorable jewelry to help with your daydreaming.

Meghan O'Neal

6 Replies to “Can Piercings Help with Pain? A Brief Guide to Piercings and Acupuncture Points”

Babs, 24 Jun 2020

I had 2 daith piercings 3 years ago this summer because I had read they helped with migraines and I thought that this was a good excuse to get piercings outside the lobes. I chose a very skilled., certified piercer prerrt much accidentally. But he did the job nearly painlessly. After the piercing I was migraine free for nearly six months, and my migraines ever since have lasted a third of the time and been probably half as painful. I am usually a sceptic but I strongly believe that daith piercings can work against migraines!

Jessica Karam, 29 Jun 2020

Thank you for your sharing your experience!

laura, 09 Dec 2020

can you please recommend the piercer thank you

Caron, 05 Nov 2021

Did you know that if you increase the weight of your piece of jewelry in your piercing that it will help increase the effectiveness of the piercing? Your ear has got used to it so wear something slightly heavier and you should see an improvement.

gemma, 20 Jan 2021

I have a conch ,helix and flat…. and since that my chronic pain because of period has decreased in 80.%

Jen, 30 Mar 2021

I’m like you Babs. I got my daith hoping that would help with migraines. Your right it did. It knocked down my migraine days in half. The pain isn’t as bad but l still have some of the other symptoms like nausea being the big one. Compared to what they were it’s a relief. Everyone says it’s just a placebo effect. Whatever, glad it works for me.

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